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Thinking About Legal Research Problems

By Paul D. Callister, JD, MSLIS

Library Director & Associate Professor of Law

Find out everything you can about the research problem.Determine whether primary, secondary or combined sources are most appropriate.For primary materials, determine the kind of law, jurisdiction and appropriate arrangement.Putting all of the factors together to find a relevant document.How to be thorough after you have found a relevant document.

Problems Type: Known Item Subject Institutional Statistical Special Techniques News Reference
Search Type
Used For
Agency Search Institution You know what you are looking for will be found at a particular institution, agency, or organization or you want to find out what agency administers a particular program or enforces a particular law. I need Department of Justice Rulings and Opinion Letters on when the merger of two large medical groups falls within the safe harbor provisions for antitrust issues.

Subscription Databases


UMKC Law Library Subscription Databases Page

CELEX--EU database.

GPO Monthly Catalog--Subscription online government catalog for all federal documents.  GPO Access is a free version of the site.

UM Databases (Government Information Databases)


Research on the Web


U.S. Federal Government 

Fed. Agencies Directory (LSU) http://www.lib.lsu.edu/gov/ Searchable list of U.S. agencies and all branches of U.S. government.  Links directly to agency web site.

Catalog of U.S. Gov. Publications (GPO Monthly Catalog) http://catalog.gpo.gov/ U.S. government is the largest publisher in the world.  Official online catalog of all publications.  Many of documents are now electronic and may be downloaded directly from the catalog.

Documents Data Miner: List of Classes http://govdoc.wichita.edu/ddm/ClassSel.asp (select "List of Classes Link) Subject organization of U.S. government publications.  Use in conjunction with Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

FedWorld http://www.fedworld.gov Provided by U.S. Commerce Department.  Provides links to several important search engines:  FirstGov (searches 30 million U.S. gov. pages); National Technical Information Service (NTIS) Library; Federal Government Jobs; and SciTech Resources.

Federal Information Subject Lists (Duke Univesity) http://docs.lib.duke.edu/federal/guides/fed_sub.html Subject organization of federal information.  Links to federal agencies, libraries, and other sites.

Google Uncle Sam (federal and state gov. documents only) http://www.google.com/unclesam Google site dedicated to searching federal and state government pages.

Library of Congress:  Government Publications http://www.loc.gov/rr/news/lcgovd.html Library of Congress guide to government and military publications.

Moody's Sources for Agency Searching  http://leep.lis.uiuc.edu/publish/mmoody/lis424/asources.html Site is no longer updated but has many useful suggestions by a prominent government document librarian.

University of Michigan Documents Center  http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/.  Premier site for locating government documents and statistics.

State Governments

State Gov. Publications http://www.library.uiuc.edu/doc/StateList/check/check.htm Comprehensive site linking to catalogs of government publications for 32 states.  Catalogs are similar to GPO Catalog.

State Gov. Institutions & Agencies  http://www.lexisone.com/legalresearch/legalguide/states/states_resources_index.htm Free site provided by Lexis with links to state governments, agencies, and branches of government.  See also Findlaw's State Resources site at http://www.findlaw.com/11stategov/index.html.

Foreign Governments 

Foreign Gov. (NWU)   http://www.library.northwestern.edu/govpub/resource/internat/foreign.html Comprehensive listing of links to foreign governments on the web.  Provided by Northwestern University Library.

Guide to Law Online: Nations of the World (LOC) http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/nations.html Comprehensive guide provided by the U.S. Law Library of Congress.

International Organizations (see also Special Techniques tab)

United Nations

UN Official Site http://www.un.org/english/ Official United Nations site.

UN Document Center http://www.un.org/documents/ Official site site with links to various UN branches, the UN Library, the UN Bibliographic Information System, the Official Document System, and UN InfoQuest.  A research guide is also available.

European Union

EU Official Site http://europa.eu.int/index_en.htm Gateway to the European Union.

EU Documents http://europa.eu/documents/index_en.htm Official Guide to the various databases and repositories of EU documents.

Eur-Lex http://eur-lex.europa.eu/en/index.htm Official web site for EU Documents including the Official Journal, treaties, case law, legislation, proposed legislation, and parliamentary questions.

European Parliament Legislative Observatory http://www.europarl.europa.eu/oeil/index.jsp?language=en Monitors new EU legislation.

PreLex http://ec.europa.eu/prelex/apcnet.cfm?CL=en Monitors decision making between various EU institutions, including the Commission and Secretariat General.

CURIA http://curia.europa.eu/en/instit/presentationfr/index_cje.htm Access case decisions of The Court of Justice, Court of First Instance, and Civil Service Tribunal.

European Commission Libraries Catalogue (ECLAS) http://europa.eu.int/eclas/ Catalog for the EU Commission Library.

EU Institutions and Other Bodies http://europa.eu/institutions/index_en.htm Guide to EU agencies and institutions with links to their websites.

Other Regional & Global Organizations 

International Gov. Organizations Index (NWU) http://www.library.northwestern.edu/govpub/resource/internat/igo.html Comprehensive site of international and multinational organizations.

Guide to Law Online: Multinational Reference (Law Library of Congress) http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/multiref.html Includes links to some multinational and regional organizations.  Also includes links to information and web sites of many foreign governments.


Other Resources

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